Council approves Vacant Building Registry

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PARIS, Tex. (KXII) -- "You go by places that have broken windows and things and so I wanted to be a place we can all be proud of," said Glee Emmite, Chair of the Main Street Advisory Board and President of the Paris Downtown Association.

Downtown Paris was rebuilt after a fire burned it to the ground in 1916.

Now, many of those buildings sit vacant and crumbling.

"I think right now there is such good momentum going that we really need to address this issue about the vacant buildings downtown," said Jill Drake, Assistant District Attorney in Lamar County and former Main Street Advisory Board Chair.

The Historic Preservation Commission, as well as the Main Street Advisory Board say enough is enough.

"It's not about specific people, it's about everybody being good neighbors and being accountable," said Emmite.

On Monday, City Manager John Godwin proposed a vacant building registry to the city council, something that has been rejected many times before.

"Either just give up or let's do something," said Paula Portugal, City Council seat for district seven.

But the ordinance passed unanimously.

"The registry is just to account for the vacant buildings, who owns them, what their address is, what the floor plan is inside, if there's anything we need to know about if something happens," said Emmite.

The registry goes into effect at the end of July and requires street numbers, floor plans, contact information and insurance to be submitted to the city, as well as an annual fee that increases each year a building in the historic district is left vacant.

"It's very important for economic development purposes that you have a downtown that looks good and that feels good and looks like a place that you want to invest money," said City Manager John Godwin.

Many at the meeting said it was a step in the right direction.

"If we want to revitalize downtown, which is what I'm vitally interested in right now, then we have to support this kind of action," said Emmite.